Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, has explained that the Federal Government decided to defer its meeting with the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) as any current talks or negotiation will end up being fruitless.
Ngige said this to journalists in reaction to a walkout staged on Tuesday by the JUSUN members, who are currently on strike.
JUSUN had, on April 6, embarked on a nationwide strike in protest of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary.
The striking judiciary workers staged their walkout after waiting for over an hour at the conference room of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, where the failed meeting was to be held.
The government had initially fixed a meeting with the union for April 15, but it was rescheduled to April 20.
The workers, who sang solidarity songs as they left the conference room, refused to listen to pleas from the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, who informed them that the Minister was holding a meeting with the government team in his office.
Reacting, Ngige said the workers are not being patient, emphasising that it is important for the government’s negotiating team to harmonise all issues from the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at separate meetings with stakeholders before meeting with them.
The minister stated that the delay of the meeting was justified.
He said: “There is no point rushing to have a meeting that will be fruitless.
“The judiciary, the governors’ forum, and even the presidency are involved in this negotiation because the meeting held yesterday was at the office of the chief of staff to the president.
“The arising documents are not yet properly harmonised. It will, therefore, not be fruitful to hold a negotiation where people speak from irreconcilable positions.
“It would not help us and it would not help the unions either. The reason is to ensure that the agreement reached at the end of our meeting here is put into action, with timeline for implementation.
“So if we do not have a paper that is ready to go, then there will be no point for the talk shop.”
Ngige said a new date for the meeting would be announced.
He said: “It is better done properly so that the governors can implement whatever agreement we enter into.
“The governors hold the ace because they are sovereign in their respective states. Though they are sub-nationals, they run the government of those states.
“Today, fund management committees have been proposed and there is also executive Order 10. This means there is a problem and we must be very careful not to create more problems instead of solving them.”